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South East European Film Festival


Southeast European Film Festival, Los Angeles (SEEfest) is a competition festival which educates about the cultural diversity of Southeast Europe and fosters cultural exchange through its annual presentations of films from the countries of the Balkans and Caucasus. Categories: Feature films, narrative documentaries, short fiction and short docs as well as short animation. Submissions are typically opened from mid-September to mid-February. SEEfest is week-long event and takes place annually at the end of April-beginning of May, in Los Angeles, CA. Awards are given in all categories by juries of Hollywood professionals. For more info, please visit https://seefilmla.org/


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In case you missed the South East European Film Festival in LA last May...

For those who didn’t see the 2011 South East European
Film Festival (SEE FEST) last May, I thought I’d recap a few of my favorite
films. Me, My Gypsy Family, and Woody
Allen
was a humorous and moving 2009 documentary about the Halilović family’s move from caravans into a
permanent apartment, and the daughter Laura’s intent on being a filmmaker
rather than getting married at 18, as her mother and relatives expected.
Halilović’s family had lived in caravans in Italy since
the 1960s, and most of her extended family still lives that way, moving every
few months, pulling their kids in and out of whatever schools would take them.
While the film made clear that some older family members preferred their
outdoor nomadic life, the toll it took on the children was evident. Also
evident was her family’s desire to stay in one spot; the implication being that
for the Roma, being nomadic was less a life choice—as I and other
outsiders  assumed—than it was the result
of being forced by others to move on, over and over. I found myself reflecting
on this film long after it was over. I also enjoyed White Button (
Bijelo Dugme), another doc about a rock band from Sarajevo
that took Yugoslavia by storm in the early 1970s and ruled the charts for 15
years, until the country began falling apart in 1989. It was remarkable how
familiar the music sounded.

 

I also enjoyed the
Romanian/German film Medal of Honor,
in which an 80-something year old man is notified that he is being awarded a
medal of honor for bravery in WWII for an event that he cannot recall. But as
he shares the news with family and friends, he accepts that his memory may have
been faulty, and that he did indeed do what the medal says—until the
authorities start questioning, and his vision unravels. It was an excellent
film, and an opportunity to see a moving and rare film performance by veteran
stage actor
Victor Rebengiuc.

 

My last experience at the 2011 SEE FEST was seeing Gypsy Spirit: Harri Stojka, a Journey.
This Austrian documentary followed Harri Stojka and his best friend, both Roma
musicians, as they traced their musical roots from Hungary back to India, where
Stojka’s family came from generations ago. It was terrific to watch the Roma
and Indian musicians improvise together on music that one side or the other
initially thought was unfamiliar, but ended up being instilled in their bones
and common to both. The Indian drummer was particularly amazing and fast. If
you ever have the chance to see it, go!

 

SEE FEST 2011 had films running from 1pm onwards for four
days straight, so I couldn’t see everything. 
But maybe you’ll be able to, next time. SEE FEST will return in May
2012, so mark your calendars now. -- Deirdre 

About South East European Film Festival

Mijojlic Vera
(SOUTH EAST EUROPEAN FILM FESTIVAL)

Southeast European Film Festival educates about the cultural diversity of Southeast Europe and fosters cultural exchange through its annual presentations of films from this region. For more info please visit: https://seefilmla.org/


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